Draft budget shows 3.1 per cent increase

Oak Bay council’s priorities plan remains a work in progress

The strategic priorities for 2015-18 over-promised and under-delivered in 2015, council heard during its April 6 Estimates meeting, where council discussed the annual budget.

Strategic initiatives in progress include the traffic speed study, electronic agendas, asset management program, Uplands sewer separation project, webcasting, Complete Streets Policy, infill development guidelines and policies, development cost charges bylaw, urban forest strategy, point of source composting pilot project, public engagement process, deer management survey and use of municipally owned home on Hampshire Road.

While the first Strategic Plan was a good first step, it needed some tweaking to leave room for the unexpected, provide mechanism for public engagement and a way to report on status of priority projects. It was something CAO Helen Koning asked council to keep in mind as they perused fire, police and building and planning budgets, and started making headway on engineering and public works.

Council approved an early $20,500 for the police budget to complete an in-progress project that hit hurdles last year. Last year’s $67,000 budget for a public and women’s washrooms at the police office were primarily carried forward to complete the project this year after two key delays, and cost considerations, came to light. During demolition asbestos was discovered under the sub-flooring. As well, a steel beam in the ceiling from a previous modification was unsupported and a risk to the structural integrity of the roof. Chief Andy Brinton expected the work would be complete by this week.

This draft of the municipal budget represents a 3.19 per cent tax increase over last year’s property tax levy.

Primary drivers of the increase are: collective bargaining contingency for fire, police and potential other groups; parks and recreation net subsidy; annualized full-time equivalency for the emergency program, human resources and building and planning clerk; CREST radio system and library contribution.

Budget discussions continue tonight, April 13, at 5:30 p.m. at municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave.